Landsdale Unquiet American

Cecil Barr Currey, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24.95 (430p) ISBN 978-0-395-38510-4
An Air Force officer and CIA operative, Lansdale devised tactics against the communist Huks in the Philippines in the early '50s, masterminded the first free elections there and soon afterward helped Ngo Dinh Diem form his fledgling government in South Vietnam. So much for his triumphs, which made him a legend in the Far East. The second half of this notable biography makes for painful reading, as the author describes Lansdale's struggles in Saigon to prevent the disintegration of the fragile nation he helped establish. Convinced that counterinsurgency must have a social vision as well as military strength, he urged political-psychological programs as opposed to search-and-destroy missions and B-52 raids. Currey does an excellent job of summarizing Lansdale's ideas, arguing that many of them would have been effective. Lansdale's urgent warnings were virtually ignored by the U.S. high command, and he closed out his maverick career collecting soldiers' songs. He died in 1987. Currey wrote Self-Destruction: The Disintegration of the United States Army During the Vietnam Era. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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